Here at the Strategist UK, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)
And while we’ve written about home-office essentials before — including the best office chairs and the best coffee makers — here, we’ve rounded up the best pens, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.co.uk.
Best-rated overall pen
Bic says this is the world’s best-selling ballpoint pen, and the sheer number of reviews seem to agree — 328 customers spoke of the excellent value for money (this box of 50 works out to 25p per pen), while 152 thought they were good quality. One student was impressed at how well these relatively basic pens held up during an intense exam season, writing that the ink lasted even throughout numerous essay deadlines. And 17 teachers wrote positive reviews, including one saying they were perfect for marking homework as they didn’t blot the page and wouldn’t cause hand cramp, even on the 27th paper. 124 reviewers said these Bic pens were the best on the market, and according to one self-described pen enthusiast, they are “absolutely lovely” to chew on.
Best-rated ballpoint pen
This three-pack by Zebra came highly rated, with 76 percent of the reviews being five stars. Fifteen reviewers commented on the triangle shape, which made the pen comfortable to hold (including for left-handed writers). Nineteen reviewers liked the ink, which was described as being a lovely deep black by one reviewer, and a pleasing thickness by another. Three students said it made note-taking almost enjoyable, while the rose-gold finish on the pen was singled out by 34 reviews for adding a stylish touch. This included a grandmother who bought a set for her grandson after he used hers to do his homework, and a manager who liked to take this pen to important meetings.
Best-rated rollerball pen
Uniball’s three-pack in black was the highest rated rollerball on Amazon, with 82 percent of the reviews being five stars. Ninety-two reviewers said they loved these pens, including a student who said they require very little force on the page and allow for smooth and fast writing. While a professional author who uses these pens to take notes throughout the day said using this pen was like writing on silk. Even a reviewer who warned against using them on glossy card (due to their habit of smudging) said they were the best pens they had ever used in their life. Thirty-nine reviews mentioned how long-lasting each one was (even by students writing all day), and 26 reviewers described the round-barrel design as very comfortable. This pen also was the favourite of one reviewer with dyspraxia; they said it was easier to hold, fitted in the hand easily, and performed well.
Best-rated gel pen
With 85 percent five-star reviews, this gel pen by Pilot came highly recommended. Eight reviewers commented on how pleasant it was to use, with one man saying he found it smooth and another saying it made putting his to-do list together quite enjoyable. Ten reviewers commented on how comfortable this pen was to hold, including a woman with small hands, who said she often found some pens a bit bulky and hard to write with for long periods. Five reviewers said this pen offered all the benefits of an ink-based pen without any of the mess, but feedback was mixed on the pen’s tendency to smudge. One reviewer said this, coupled with the ink taking a while to dry, meant the pen might not be for everyone.
Best-rated fountain pen
Parker’s stainless-steel fountain pen has 81 percent five-star reviews. Forty-two reviewers said how impressed they were with the pen, with 25 mentioning how smooth it was to write with. This included one customer who said rollerballs and ballpoints just didn’t feel the same after using this. One fountain pen enthusiast liked this model for being a lower price, recommending it as a “starter” fountain pen for people looking to try them out. Five reviews noted how light this was for a fountain pen, and suggested keeping the cap on the end of the pen to add weight. Eight reviewers also said that the ink flowed well (something which can occasionally be a problem with cartridge pens). In total, 13 customers bought this pen as a gift, with the presentation box being mentioned as a particular highlight.
Best-rated fine-point pen
Stabilo’s 0.4mm fine liner has 83 percent five-star reviews, with 39 reviews saying they loved the unusual design, which has a hexagonal-shaped barrel. According to a maths student who said they loved everything about this pen, the fine nib makes the ink stay on the paper rather than dragging across the page, which makes equations and complex sums easier to write out. They were also popular with Chinese students, including one who said intricate characters were easier to write out with a finer pen like this. One reviewer said their usual chicken-scratch handwriting looked like calligraphy with this pen — and 11 reviewers said they were just as good for drawing as they were for writing. However, reviews seemed split on their longevity — one school teacher said that although she loved them, daily use meant her pens only lasted two weeks.
Best-rated pen with eraser
This Pilot pen with an eraser on the end came recommended by several people, including a seamstress, who said she used it to mark fabrics before sewing them because it was more accurate than using chalk. A dyslexic student found it handy being able to correct mistakes and particularly appreciated the fact this pen came in several colours, too. One wary reviewer, who bought these on a whim after being let down by similar erasable pens, was pleasantly surprised. They said the pen barely leaves an indent in the paper, meaning erasing is made easy, and the eraser can be used even when the ink is fresh without any smudging whatsoever. In total, 170 reviewers said they’d recommend this product, including a mum whose young daughter wanted a more “grown-up” alternative to crayons and pencils, and an office manager who said they saved a fortune on correction fluid.
Best-rated marker pen
Sharpie’s fine-point pen was the best-rated marker pen, with 82 percent five-star reviews. Thirteen reviewers said that this was their favourite model of Sharpie because it’s easy to write with — with an additional 5 reviewers noting how useful it was for labelling or marking school uniforms. The fine tips and the thicker barrel made them ideal for kids, too — one woman said she bought them for her child’s birthday party. They were also popular with adults, including one man who said the fine tip was perfect for marking his golf balls, and someone who used it to label everything from gift tags to CDs. Fifteen reviewers thought the quality was excellent, though one person warned against drawing a moustache on your face with it — as it is pretty hard to wash off.
Best-rated soft-feel pen
This 1.0mm ballpoint by Bic was the highest rated of its kind. Seventy-six percent of the reviews were five stars, with a lot of people remarking on the quality of the ‘soft feel’ rubber grip around the end of the barrel. This made it useful for puzzle books, according to a prolific arrowword fanatic, who said it felt comfortable and easy to grip, even over long periods. One writer agreed, saying they’ve stopped getting a sore finger after using this pen. According to a recent university graduate, the rubber grip was especially useful due to the fact you can hold it in wet hands, which was helpful for a case of the dreaded “exam sweats.” Another student, who had suffered tendonitis and a strain injury after writing so much during their A-levels said this was a fantastic pen for alleviating any pain, and made writing for long periods possible. Thirteen reviewers also thought these were excellent value for money.
Best-rated multicolour pen set
This multicolour variant on the Bic crystal was also popular, with 80 percent of the reviews being five stars. The colour selection impressed one parent, who said they were perfect for her daughter’s colour-coded revision cards, while a primary school teacher said her pupils enjoyed writing more when they could do it in their favourite colour. Eight customers liked how decently priced they were, and though one five star reviewer said that while they weren’t ideal for long periods of writing, they were still an affordable, decent option.
Best-rated children’s pen
While some of the pens featured (such as the Stabilo fine liner) had been recommended for children due to their grip, this Stabilo model is designed specifically for little hands. Twenty parents said it was the pen they used to teach their kids to write, including a grandmother who said her grandchildren liked the curved design, which didn’t feel as unwieldy as using an adult pen. They even came recommended by a teacher who has been teaching handwriting for 40 years, who said it doesn’t cause children to ‘over-grip’ the pen and get tired. Eight reviewers also said it was good for improving motor skills – in fact one parent said this pen came recommended by several teachers – but an 82-year-old wrote that after recovering from a stroke, this pen helped her relearn how to write.
Best-rated left handed children’s pen
Stabilo’s left-handed version of the same pen features 86 percent five-star reviews. In total, 35 parents recommended it, including one parent who bought it during lockdown and said it instantly changed her son’s attitude to homework. Most of the reviews mention the thicker nib, which allows children to see where the ink is on the page (therefore making them less likely to press down too hard). Ten reviewers also mentioned the depressions in the side for the fingers and thumb, which teach children how to hold it.
Best-rated left handed pen for adults
Though several adults had used the children’s Stabilo pen, they also do a slightly more grown-up looking one, which has 71 percent five stars. One reviewer bought these for their teen sons, one left-handed, one right-handed, but both with dyspraxia, and said the ergonomic design felt nice in the hand without looking too ‘different’. It also comes with a foam tip which is designed to be used as a stylus on iPads or other tablets; 14 reviewers commented on how effective it was, including a left-handed teenager who bought it to make note-taking at university easier.
Best-rated 4-in-1 pen
Eighty-three percent of the reviews for this 4-in-1 pen by Bic were five stars. They were popular with teachers, several of whom said they made marking (which was often colour-coded at secondary-school level) much easier than using multiple pens at once. Even though five reviewers noticed this pen was quite big, which made writing trickier than usual, nine reviewers mentioned it was easy to hold. And 48 reviewers spoke highly of the ink quality, which was smooth on the page and dried quickly. Even though each colour comes with less ink than a standard pen, one teacher said the ease alone made it worth choosing.
Best-rated calligraphy pen
These calligraphy pens from Edding, a German pen-maker, came recommended by 49 professional and amateur calligraphers. Reviewers mentioned the three sizes (5.0mm, 3.5mm, and 2.0mm) as being great for beginners, while seven reviewers said they were perfect for adding a bit of flair to wedding invitations. Nine reviewers said these were a good value, given that calligraphy pens can often be costly, so they were an affordable way for children to learn letter work.
Best-rated refillable pen
Cross’s century ballpoint pen is the most expensive featured, but it has 75 percent five stars, and is popular with people who want something long-lasting. One five-star reviewer said they’d had enough of disposable, one-use pens, and described this slender chrome pen as “gorgeous.” Another five-star review by a nurse in a London hospital said she wanted a pen people wouldn’t steal, and as someone who does a lot of paperwork, this pen was light and comfy to use. Thirteen reviewers specifically mentioned the refills, which were easy to use and long-lasting. Nineteen customers said they loved the look, but five described it as feeling cheap.
And here are some refills.
Some other pens we like
Strategist contributor Lynn Enright doesn’t know how this pen came into her possession, but working from home, it quickly became her and her husband’s favourite. “To start with, it is the perfect weight – not so light that it feels flimsy, but not cumbersome, either. Meanwhile, the hexagonal barrel means it fits in your grip just so. Even the ‘click’ that brings the pen to life is designed to feel inherently satisfying. (It also serves as a kind of stress-reducer; I often find myself clicking and un-clicking throughout a particularly boring video call.” It’s made by Swiss company Caran d’Ache, which has been designing statusy writing tools since 1915.
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.